Springfield is a growing and thriving community, with a level of synergy throughout the community to attract talent and develop existing talent. Our leaders want all who call Springfield home (and those considering Springfield for their home) to know they are welcome!
Springfield uses disaggregated data to analyze the needs of the community and make decisions to enhance lives by addressing inequities and gaps in access to services. The following initiatives demonstrate what Springfield has been doing to support why “we do what we do”:
- Community Focus Reports reflects “Blue Ribbons” – what Springfield does well and “Red Flags” – opportunities for improvement.
- Field Guide 2030: A Strategic Path to Springfield’s Future represents diverse cross-sectional initiatives with intersections through four main themes: Regionalism, Sustainability, Minimizing Poverty and Civic Engagement.
- Forward SGF is the city’s development of a comprehensive plan for Springfield’s future.
To meet the two main goals from the Impacting Poverty Commission, Springfield must be positioned to meet the needs of students and adult learners. Springfield needs to increase efforts on equity and excellence. As Springfield continues to recognize and address historical inequalities, the community can develop local talent, increase retention of existing talent and attract new talent by establishing systems that connect programs to pathways for long-term sustainability and regional growth.
Equity and Excellence are key elements to meet the needs of our community, the state and the nation.
Equity – The elimination of disparities in educational outcomes for students from historically underserved and underrepresented populations. Springfield can reduce the widening postsecondary attainment gap for American Indians, African American, Latinx (used to recognize all Latin and Hispanic populations) and students from low-income families by creating opportunities to share resources and empower students and adult learners.
Excellence – A clear, flexible and transparent pathway to assist students to achieve postsecondary credentials. The Springfield community can build an affordable system with incentives that align high-quality learning opportunities, 21st century personal desires and workforce needs, while encouraging students, institutions and business owners to increase attainment to close the gaps. For example, in 2019 MSU provided dual-credit opportunities for any SPS student who qualified for free and reduced lunch. In 2018, MSU unveiled five cost-saving measures that impacted equity and increased excellence:
- Reduced credit hours to complete bachelor’s degree
- Expanded scholarships
- Froze housing rates
- Lowered meal prices
- Provided less expensive textbook options
Equity matters because historical inequities have been a major barrier for underserved populations to have access to quality educational opportunities. With an intentional and focused effort, Springfield is redesigning systems with the Inclusive Excellence Change Model, woven through the private, public and social sectors of the community. Springfield is designing an eco-system to value diverse pathways that meet individuals where they are so the entire community (regardless of race/ethnicity, income, gender identity, religious beliefs, or socioeconomic status) can succeed in the workplace, their lives and in the regional community.
The Inclusive Excellence Change Model provides an adaptable framework for any entity to set goals to support postsecondary attainment and workforce while driving change within the community. Goals and measurable action steps are developed for each strategy within the model.
- Across the city, public entities, non profit organizations and businesses are following the lead of Missouri State University to apply the Inclusive Excellence Model:
- 1.Access, Success & Equity
- Focus on demographics: such as students/faculty, staff, workers, leadership and others who participate in the organizations efforts and measured success (e.g., MSU has a goal to increase enrollment and academic success of diverse and underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students).
- 2. Learning & Development
- Curriculum or core company training materials that include the development and assessment of related outcomes. This includes diversity content in courses, training, marketing materials, experiences across programs and climate of the organization’s environment (e.g., OTC eliminated English and Math assessments to reduce barriers and cost for students to increase access to OTC to obtain an associate’s degree or industry-specific certificate).
- 3. Campus, Company or Organization Climate
- The development of a psychological and behavioral climate supportive of all students, faculty, staff, employees, leaders, etc. (e.g., the City of Springfield will soon announce the city’s diversity and inclusion initiative that will have positive and sustainable impacts to the climate of the Springfield area.)
- 4. Business, Institutional and Organization Commitment – Inclusion as a Value
- The degree of integration of policies, finances, and support necessary for true inclusive excellence in higher education, private, public and social sectors (e.g., Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) established a diversity and inclusion value and internal committee that recommends ongoing staff training to engage staff to learn varied perspectives of diversity, inclusion and social justice).
In 2011, the state of Missouri set a BIG Goal for 60% working-age adults to have a certificate or degree by 2025. Springfield adopted the 60% goal in 2015. For the status of the goal, review the Prosper Springfield Third Annual Report. By 2020 almost 66% of all jobs in Missouri required additional education beyond high school according to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.